Heikki Kovalainen has emerged as a surprise contender to keep his F1 career alive in 2013.
Ousted by Caterham, the Finn is reportedly in talks with Marussia about replacing the Brazilian Luiz Razia, whose F1 debut is on the skids over delayed sponsorship payments.
MTV3, the Finnish broadcaster, is citing ‘several credible sources’ in reporting that 31-year-old Kovalainen is in with a shout of becoming Max Chilton’s teammate.
Multiple other media sources are reporting the same, based on swirling rumours in the Barcelona paddock that Razia will not be driving the Cosworth-powered Marussia this week.
“Nothing is certain until it is certain,” said MTV3 commentator Oskari Saari, “but that discussions are taking place is a fact.”
Saari added that it is “quite possible” Kovalainen will test the new MR02 on Saturday.
Britain’s Sky reports that Kovalainen has already had a seat fitting at Marussia’s factory, and is offering to race in 2013 for free.
“We have to do what is best for the whole team,” Marussia sporting director Graeme Lowdon said. “If there are changes it will be for the good of the team.”
It has also been rumoured that Narain Karthikeyan and Jules Bianchi are possible contenders for Razia’s seat. Meanwhile, Vitaly Petrov’s manager Oksana Kosachenko was in the Barcelona paddock on Thursday, sparking rumours of a Russian team-and-driver lineup for 2013.
But Kosachenko said: “We’ve already seen the Russian presence of the team diminish.
“The Russians on the team are almost gone,” she told f1news.ru, “Nikolai Fomenko stopped going to the races. The Russians are actually only the owners and the license holders.
“This year, Vitaly will not be in Formula )ne,” Kosachenko confirmed.